Summary: Most people spend the vast majority of their time in offices. Author of the book Mekor Hayyim: A Source Book on Water and Judaism, Rabbi Lawrence Troster provides a guide for making physical workspaces green in this article.
Holiness can be created anywhere; it is not confined to the synagogue or home. In Judaism’s holistic approach to life, the exercise of making a livelihood is critical — the presence of God also should be felt in the way we conduct our business. There is a considerable classical and modern literature on Jewish business ethics, and now that area of ethics should include environmentalism. In Jewish environmental ethics, one of the most important ways of expressingkedusha — holiness — is through the greening of physical space, wherever it may be.
Since modern offices are where many people spend a great deal of their daily lives and must be considered part of local ecosystems, they also should reflect the Jewish environmental value of the preservation of Creation.
Rabbi Lawrence Troster is the rabbinic director at J Street. An eco-theologian and environmental activist for more than 25 years, he previously worked as a rabbinic scholar-in-residence at GreenFaith, as a rabbinic adviser at Hazon, and as a rabbinic fellow at the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life. Author of the book, Mekor Hayyim: A Source Book on Water and Judaism, Troster also co-chaired the U.N. Environment Programme’s Interfaith Partnership for the Environment.
The Jewish Energy Guide presents a comprehensive Jewish approach to the challenges of energy security and climate change and offers a blueprint for the Jewish community to achieve a 14% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by September of 2014, which is the next Shmittah, or sabbatical, year in the Jewish calendar.
The Jewish Energy Guide is part of COEJL's Jewish Energy Network, a collaborative effort with Jewcology's Year of Action to engage Jews in energy action and advocacy. The Guide was created in partnership with the Green Zionist Alliance.